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Questions

Volume 12: debated on Monday 8 May 1893

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The Irish County Magistracy

beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when he proposes to make his statement promised on the 1st May as to the whole system of the appointment of County Magistrates in Ireland, and the action which the Lord Chancellor will be prepared to take?

The only statement which I think it useful to make is that the Lord Chancellor, acting on precedent set by some of his predecessors in Office, and confirmed by Resolution of this House of May 5, has prepared a list of additional Magistrates for counties without the recommendation of the Lieutenants of these counties. Some of these lists —including that affecting the county which the hon. Member represents—will be published in the course of a day or two.

The Analysis Of Stale Milk

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if his attention has been directed to the following paragraph in a letter addressed to Dr. Bell, the Principal of the Inland Revenue Laboratory, Somerset House, by the Society of Public Analysts, in September, 1892, and signed by 119 members of the Society, including nearly all the public analysts in the United Kingdom, in which they state that they have long observed with regret the practice of certifying, in a manner liable to be interpreted by the Court as definite, on samples of milk which have been kept for a considerable time, and which, therefore, when examined, must have been in such a condition as to preclude any trustworthy opinion being formed respecting their original composition; also that the formation of any reliable opinion is in a great many cases impossible under such circumstances owing to the very irregular character of the changes milk undergoes on keeping, and, therefore, express a hope that in future it will be clearly stated in all certificates that owing to decomposition it is impossible to obtain analytical results comparable in point of accuracy with those yielded by the milk when it was fresh; and whether there is any objection to directions being given to Dr. Bell to comply with this request, especially if the practice complained of has led in any instances to failure of justice?

I have been in communication with the Board of Inland Revenue on the subject of the question, and I am informed that the statements contained in the paragraph cited must not be accepted as representing the facts connected with the analysis of milks referred to Somerset House by directions of the Magistrates. No analysis of a sample is undertaken if found in a condition which does not allow of a trustworthy opinion being formed respecting its original composition; and there are no valid grounds whatever for believing that any instances of failure of justice have arisen through the evidence contained in the certificates of analysis furnished to Magistrates under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts by the chemical officers of the Board of Inland Revenue. In this connection it may be observed, with respect to the samples of milk referred by the Justices in disputed cases and analysed during the year ended March 31, 1893, that, of 26 alleged to contain added water, in only two instances did the Somerset House analysts come to the conclusion that no water had been added, and that, of 12 samples alleged to have been deficient in fat or cream, in only one instance were they of opinion that the fat was not deficient.

Half-Pay Colonels

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether Colonels in the Army on being placed on half-pay are at once informed if it is decided not to offer them further employment; and whether the absence of intimation to that effect indicates that they will be offered further employment?

It is optional with Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels who have completed their period of regimental command to accept the retired pay to which they are entitled, or to go on half-pay on the Active List. If they accept the latter alternative they take their chance with others for employment as it offers. They are aware that their names are recorded for consideration, and in some instances it is intimated to them that their chances of employment are very remote.

I should like to recall to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman words used in February, 1891, by his predecessor to this effect—

"We all recognise the injustice of retaining such officers on half-pay unless, in the opinion of the Authorities, they have a reasonable prospect of obtaining employment. We think it right that they should be informed of what their prospects are."
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear those words in mind.

I will consider the matter, but I may point out that the words "reasonable prospect" are somewhat elastic.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, with reference to his statement to the effect that the Government have thought it desirable to make some addition to the pay of Colonels on half-pay during their period of suspended animation, he is now in a position to inform the House what addition it has been decided to make; and whether the additional payment will take effect from the commencement of the present financial year or from a prior date?

It is intended to increase the half-pay of the officers in question to £300 per annum. This increase could not take effect before April 1 of this year.

Outrages In Kerry

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the house of a widow near Currans, County Kerry, was attacked by armed and disguised moonlighters on the loth ultimo, and several shots fired into the house; that the house of a farmer named Flynn, also near Currans, County Kerry, was attacked on the night of the 14th instant by armed and disguised moonlighters, and several shots fired into the house; and that on the night of the loth instant six cows, the property of Mr. McMahon, a farmer, of Castle Farm, near Currans, County Kerry (the place at which Curtin was murdered in 1886), were brutally stabbed and mutilated; whether any persons have been made amenable for these offences; and whether, having regard to the serious crime in the locality, any special steps will be taken to assist the law?

I am informed that the house of Mrs. Cronin, of Cragg, near Currans, was entered by an armed party of four or five men on the night of April 15, and that a revolver was pointed at her by one of the party; but no shot, was fired. Two arrests have been made in connection with this outrage, and the men so arrested are under remand in custody and will come up for trial at the next Quarter Sessions. The house of James Flyun, near Currans, was fired into on the night of the 13th instant by a party of three men, one of whom was armed, but none were disguised. Flynn has fully identified two of the party, both of whom have been arrested and remanded. The motive in this case possesses no agrarian element. With regard to the outrage on the cattle of Mr. McMahon, I pointed out, in reply to a question addressed to me yesterday by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, that three cows, not six, had been maliciously out on the 8th instant, and that the cuts were merely skin deep. No person has been made amenable for this last-mentioned offence, which is not agrarian in origin. It will thus be observed that of the throe outrages referred to in the question arrests have been made by the police in connection with two cases, and these the more serious. It is quite true that there has been an increase of moonlighting outrages within the area defined by me yesterday as comprehending small portions of Kerry, Limerick, and Cork. The authorities report that there is no cause for anxiety.

May I ask whether the accused men will be tried within the disturbed area?

I cannot say. The trials will take place at the place where they usually do.

What is the proportion of the disturbed area to that of the three counties within which it lays?

Of Kerry about one-fifth; of Cork much loss—probably one-eighth; and of Limerick about one-fifth.

Civil Service Age Limit

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will explain on what grounds the Lords of the Treasury have, in reply to a recent Memorial, removed the age limit to 50, which had previously been laid down as the maximum beyond which approval to nominations to promotion to the rank of abstractor or assistant clerk had been refused, and substituted a limit of 60 years?

The Treasury have altered the limit of age to 60 because, after consideration of representations that had been made to them, they came to the conclusion that the concession was reasonable.

The Parliamentary Debates

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Government intend to take action on the Report of the Committee on Parliamentary Debates, with special reference to the recommendation that, respecting the proofs of speeches for a record of Parliamentary Proceedings, no corrections by the Members be allowed?

It is not practicable, during the continuance of the contract for the present year, to alter the system of correction of speeches, for which the contract, provides. The whole subject will, of course, be carefully considered by the Treasury before a new contract is made.

Southampton Customs Launch

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether a new launch for Her Majesty's Customs at Southampton has been ordered from a firm at Dartmouth; and, if so, whether tenders were invited and the Dartmouth tender was the lowest; and, if not, will he state why the usual custom was departed from, and why the order was not given to a Southampton firm, one of which wrote to the collector and offered to tender?

My right hon. Friend asks me to answer this question. Tenders were invited, and the lowest, that of a firm at Dartmouth, was accepted.

Sub-Inspectors Under The Railway Regulation Acts

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any appointment of Sub-Inspectors to the Board under the Railway Regulation Acts has been made or will now be made; and whether in making such appointments those who have had practical experience of railway work will be selected?

The desirability of appointing Sub-Inspectors of Railways has engaged my careful attention; but I am advised that the existing Railway Regulation Acts do not impose duties upon the Board which could be delegated to Sub-Inspectors. When the Railway Servants (Hours of Labour) Bill is placed upon the Statute Book I shall have to re-consider the question.

Then do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that under the Railway Regulation Acts inquiries into accidents to individuals and servants of the Company might not be legally conducted by Sub-Inspectors?

I am afraid that such inquiries cannot properly be delegated to Sub-Inspectors.

Government Contracts With Foreign Firms

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether an order for upwards of £19,000 worth of armour-piercing shells has recently been given to a French firm over the head of any English tenderer; and having regard to the recent Report of the Labour Correspondent of the Board of Trade at Sheffield, that many men (in analogous branches of industry) have only done one turn a week since Christmas, and are in a most deplorable condition, if more attention will be paid in the further orders about to be placed to avoid spending the people's money out of the United Kingdom in the employment of foreign workmen?

At the same time, may I ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether a, largo contract or order for steel shells has been placed with a foreign manufacturer?

This is a case in which public interests would have suffered by the adoption of any other course. The Admiralty have been anxious to employ English manufacturers; but a heavy loss would have been involved in accepting an English tender.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the date of the contract?

The Marking Of Foreign Meat

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if the special attention of the Committee now considering the desirability of marking foreign meat to distinguish it from British will be drawn to the Report (Miscellaneous Series, No. 286) by Sir Francis Denys, Secretary of Legation at Copenhagen, recently laid on the Table, upon the successful marking by Government authority of all meat sold in that city, and of the advantages thereby accruing to both producers and consumers; and if the oral evidence and personal experience on the subject of that diplomatist will, if desired, be placed at the service of the Committee?

I have reason to know that the Chairman of the Committee to which the hon. Member refers is fully cognisant of the Report in question, and I have no doubt that the system of marking in force in Copenhagen will receive the attention of the Committee. If the Committee desire to obtain any further information on the subject, we shall be glad to do anything in our power to give effect to their wishes; but I understand that it would be contrary to precedent to call a Diplomatic Officer home to give evidence, and, of course, Sir Francis Denys is not himself an expert in regard to the matter.

The Union Jack In Ireland

I bog to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that the Police Authorities of the City of Londonderry ordered the Union Jack flags to be taken down from the hotels of that city during the recent visit of Lord Salisbury on Friday last; and if this was done under the orders of the Government?

I will, at the same time, ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by whoso authority was the order given to certain holders of licences in Londonderry to remove the Union Jack from their premises during the visit of Lord Salisbury; and on what grounds?

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I inquire whether the late Government did not prosecute a licensed victualler for displaying a flag from his house; and whether the late Colonel King-Harman did not state in the last Parliament that the law would be enforced and prosecutions instituted in all such cases?

I believe the circumstances alluded to by my hon. Friend did take place, and that the answer to which he refers was given. In reply to the questions on the Paper, as they have given rise to some not wholly unnatural excitement and to a great deal of wholly unfounded comment, perhaps I may be allowed to answer at some length. The true story is this. On the 26th inst. Mr. Humphrey Babington, publican, of Derry, applied to the Magistrates at Petty Sessions for permission to put up flags on his licensed premises in honour of the visit of the Marquess of Salisbury. The Mayor referred Mr. Babington to the District Inspector of Constabulary, who drew the attention of the Magistrates to Section 8 of the 6 & 7 William IV., cap. 38, and stated he could give no directions in the matter, and that any person putting up flags should act on his own responsibility, as it was against the law. The matter then dropped. The same evening a sergeant of police saw a flag displayed from the Northern Hotel. He spoke to the proprietress, and told her it was wrong. He does not know what flag it was, except that it had a "red look." The same sergeant saw flags displayed from the Imperial Hotel on the same evening. He told the proprietor, Mr. Hagan, they were not legal, and the latter replied that as they were out he would leave them out. Up to this time the sergeant had only consulted the Head Constable, and no order had been given by any person in superior authority. Next day, the 27th, an acting sergeant on duty was directed by Mr. Doherty, a local Magistrate, to warn a publican named MacIlwaine to take down the flags which he had displayed on his licensed premises. The acting sergeant obeyed the Magistrate's order. The publican, however, would not take down the flags. This was the only interference by the police; they drew attention to no par- ticular flag, and merely stated it was illegal to display "flags" from licensed premises. I need hardly say that no order was ever issued by any Central Authority, and that it had no cognizance of these transactions until after they had taken place. Under the 9th section of the 6 & 7 William IV., cap. 38, a constable authorised by a Justice of the Peace or Chief Constable may enter into licensed premises

"To remove and take away and destroy, if he shall think proper, any banners, flags, colours, symbols, emblems, or decorations hanging out or displayed from such premises."
It is clear to my mind that the Union Jack is not one of the flags contemplated under this section as a flag proper to be destroyed. That and the previous sections of the Act would seem to be prohibitive of holding in licensed premises illegal assemblies or secret societies, or hanging out or displaying from such premises party flags, emblems, or banners. I think the words used by Colonel King-Harman wise words when he said that the law would continue to be enforced wherever and whenever the preservation of the peace demanded it.

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what is the flag with regard to which a prosecution was instituted by Colonel King-Harman?

It was not the Union Jack. It was a piece of calico with the words "God save Ireland!" upon it.

I beg to give notice that on an early day I will ask leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the section of the Act of William IV. referred to, or, at any rate, to refer it to the Statute Law Revision Committee.

And I beg to give notice that I shall oppose the introduction of such a Bill.

Troops For Belfast

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if the 1st, Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry has been sent from Guernsey to Belfast; and if this increases the troops in Belfast above the normal average?

There will be no increase of the force at Belfast, The 1st Battalion King's Own Light Infantry has sailed for Belfast to relieve the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, which is under orders for the Curragh.

Inverness Prison

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if any addition has been made to the cell accommodation in Inverness Prison since 31st March, 1892; if so, how great was the increase, and when was it made?

I have communicated with the Prison Commissioners for Scotland, who inform me that there has been no change in the cell accommodation at Inverness Prison since March, 1892.

Dockyard Wages

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether an employé in Her Majesty's Dockyards who is in receipt of a pension for work done in some other branch of Her Majesty's Service, e.g., the police, cannot receive the maximum wage to which his present position would otherwise entitle him; and, if so, whether Her Majesty's Government will remedy the inequality which exists in these cases?

The re-employment of Pensioned Civil Servants is governed by the Superannuation Act, 1834, and no Civil pension can be drawn by a re-employed man if his wages exceed his former pay; if re-employed upon a lower scale of pay, then only so much pension can be drawn, as will, together with his present pay, equal his former pay.

I beg to give notice that I shall bring this matter forward on the Navy Estimates.

The Army And Home Rule

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the paragraph in The Westminster Gazette of the 18th instant, as quoted from The Irish Catholic, in which it is stated that at the officers' mess at Aldershot of a regiment now quartered at the Camp, the toast of "The Queen and no Home Rule" was given a few nights since, and responded to by all the officers present; and, if so, having regard to the fact that the rank and file of the regiment in question is said to be largely composed of Irish Nationalists, the officers will be reprimanded for such conduct?

The general officer commanding at Aldershot reports that the only regiment there which could come within the conditions implied by the question is the Leinster Regiment. The officer commanding that regiment reports that, so far as it is concerned, the report is without foundation. I must add that we have no knowledge whatever of the political opinions of soldiers in any regiment.

Irregular Education Grants

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether his attention has been called to certain irregular and illegal payments of the grants for small populations (Code, Articles 104 and 105) made during the year ended August, 1891 (Return No. 336, 1892), among which occur cases of grants paid on the population of an ecclesiastical or other district not being a school district as defined by the Education Acts, and grants paid to a school recognised as supplying more than one district, although the population of the combined districts is in excess of the statutory limit; and whether he will take any, and, if so, what, steps in order to prevent a recurrence of such payments?

My attention has been called to certain cases in which irregularities have occurred in the payment of grants under Articles 104 and 105 of the Code. But for some months past special attention has been given to the conditions under which these grants are made, and means taken to prevent any irregularity in future, by requiring fuller particulars from the school authorities, and instructing Her Majesty's Inspector to satisfy himself as to the accuracy of their figures. Directions will also be given that the new Census Returns for parishes shall be carefully considered in connection with the small population grants.

The Distribution Of Parliamentary Papers

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Orders of the Day sent to each Member each morning now amount to and even exceed one pound in weight, the whole House thereby receiving some six hundredweight of printed matter a-day; whether he is also aware that of this over 50 pages a-day sent to each Member, or about 35,000 foolscap printed pages sent to the whole House, are Amendments to the Government of Ireland Bill issued over and over again, thus rendering it almost impossible to find out which are now Amendments; and whether he can arrange that only new Amendments shall be issued daily, with a weekly edition of the whole Amendments, or some other arrangement, in order to save this large expenditure of printing and stationery and the inconvenience which the distribution of this great amount of printed matter involves on hon. Members?

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the question, may I suggest whether it would not be desirable to print the actual clause under discussion at the head of the Amendments?

The printing of the Notice Paper is under the control of the Speaker, who will, no doubt, consider the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman. As to the question of the hon. Member for North Islington, no doubt the weights of the Orders of the Day and the number of printed pages are as stated by my hon. Friend. In reply to the concluding paragraph of the hon. Member's question, it may be remarked that when a Bill does not stand for Committee upon the Notice Paper of the House for that day's Sitting, it is only-new Amendments to the Bill, of which notice has been given at the previous Sitting, which are printed and circulated with the morning delivery of the Notice Paper, but that whenever a Bill stands for Committee upon the Notice Paper, all the proposed Amendments to the Bill must be circulated in each morning's delivery of the Notice Paper, and that the cost of that circulation is only the cost of the paper on which the Amendments are printed.

Then if it is deemed necessary to issue all the Amendments each morning would it not be as well that the new Amendments should be printed in a different typo?

I hope that the hon. Member who has just sat down will, in the interests of economy, use his influence to induce hon. Members near him to refrain from putting down so many Amendments to the Government of Ireland Bill.

The Dutch Operations Against The Acheenese

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government have any information as to the progress, present aspect, and prospects of the war which has been carried on by the Dutch against the Acheenese during the last 20 years; whether, by the Treaty of Perpetual Defensive Alliance, of 22nd April, 1819, between Great Britain and Acheen, Great Britain undertook to defend the Acheenese from aggression: whether, under the rule of the Law of Nations, laid down by the Black Sea Conference of London on the 17th January, 1871, Great Britain is still bound by that Treaty, or whether she has ever been released from her obligation by Acheen; and whether Her Majesty's Government, taking into consideration the Treaty of 1819, will now either carry out the engagements of Great Britain under the Treaty, or will use its influence with the Government of Holland to bring about some accommodation whereby an end may be put to the war in Acheen?

*THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
(Sir E. GREY, Northumberland, Berwick)

The latest Reports do not indicate any prospect of a cessation of the chronic state of warfare which has unfortunately existed for so long. A recent Ordinance issued by the Netherlands Indian Government has, however, partially relaxed the blockade of the coast of Acheen. It appears to have been held by successive Governments, at various times, that the provisions of the Treaty of 1819 had not been uninter- ruptedly observed on either side, and could no longer be said to be in force.

Cannot the hon. Baronet give me some answer to the last three paragraphs of my question?

"The Labour Gazette"

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state who is the proprietor of The Labour Gazette.

The proprietorship of The Labour Gazette, like that of all other Government publications, is in the hands of the Government, and the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office is registered at Stationers Hall as the owner of the copyright?

The Slaughter Of Injured Horses

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to a statement in The Daily News, of 29th May, of great suffering inflicted on a horse injured by a collision in Piccadilly, which, for over three hours, the police would not allow the owner to kill because the services of a licensed slaughterer could not be obtained; and will he take measures to prevent in future such delay?

The accident has been brought under the notice of the Department. The statement that the police would not allow the owner to kill the horse until the licensed slaughterer had arrived is not correct. The general subject is now under consideration.

The Revenue Of The Proposed Irish Government

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to lay upon the Table the Revised Estimate of the Revenue of the Irish Government under the Government of Ireland Bill, and of the Irish Customs Receipts, promised by him on 27th April; and, if not, whether he will fix a date for giving this information to the House?

I am unable to say when the Revised Estimates of the Revenue of the Irish Government under the Government of Ireland Bill will be laid upon the Table of the House, but I will try and get it ready as soon as possible.

Seeing the important character of these figures, cannot the right hon. Gentleman fix any date when they will be ready?

Commercial Treaty With Spain

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Representative at Madrid has been able to induce the Spanish Government to commence negotiations, with a view to establish a new Treaty of Commerce between Spain and England of a character favourable to the development of trade between the two nations?

The Spanish Government have not yet formulated their proposals, but Her Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid has come to London in order to confer with Her Majesty's Government on the subject.

Science And Art Schools Under Home Rule

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education if he will state under what section of the Government of Ireland Bill provision is made in respect of Science and Art schools and Technical Education in Ireland?

The expenditure on Science and Art schools in Ireland will be one of the Civil charges of the Government in Ireland, which under Clause 12, Sub-section 2, of the Bill are to be borne after the appointed day by Ireland—in other words, the expenditure will be provided by the Irish Legislature out of the Irish Votes. Technical Instruction can be provided by Local Authorities in Ireland at the present time under the Technical Instruction Act, 1889.

Floating Grog Shops In The North Sea

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government of the French Republic declined in 1892 to continue their concurrence in the North Sea Liquor Traffic Convention of 1887, because of their disagreement with us in regard to the occupation of Egypt; and, if so, whether he can indicate, and present to the House, any official Correspondence containing any such declaration on the part of the French Government?

The French Government have never based their refusal to ratify the North Sea Liquor Traffic Convention of 1887 on the ground of a disagreement with this country with regard to the occupation of Egypt. On the contrary, they submitted the Convention to the Chamber of Deputies for confirmation. But the members of that Body appointed a Commission to report upon the question, and the Commission recommended the rejection of the Bill. The arguments they used were mainly directed against Great Britain, and they referred to an alleged opposition to French influence in Egypt. The hon. Member will find the reference at page 39 of the Correspondence recently presented.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that the reference to Egypt to which he has just alluded is a reference to the affairs of Egypt before 1842?

Is it not a fact that the objection of the Commission to the Convention was based not on English intervention in Egypt, but on the idea that England would dominate the sea?

[No answer was given.]

I wish to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has seen a report that two "coopers" are causing wholesale demoralisation among the North Sea Fishing Fleet; and whether this does not render it especially desirable that he should use his influence to secure that the Bill now before Parliament be passed through the House of Lords as soon as possible?

I have seen a telegram to the effect stated, and I hope we shall be able to pass the Bill dealing with this subject through the House as promptly as possible, and put it into operation without delay.

How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to deal with "coopers" sailing under the French flag?

There never have been, and there are not any, and we have no reason to believe that there ever will be any, "coopers" under the French flag. When the question arises we shall know how to deal with it.

The Closure

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, with a view to securing harmonious action in the Committee on the Government of Ireland Bill, he will consider the advisability of using his influence in order that the conduct of the Bill may be left in the hands of a responsible Minister with regard to the Motion for Closure?

I do not exactly gather the intention of the right hon. Member who has put this question, or what he intends to recommend: but I must say, as a substantial answer to it, that when the Government of Ireland Bill is in Committee responsible Ministers of the Crown who are present and taking part in the discussion upon all occasions when proposals of first-class importance or of serious interest are before the Committee on which the Government think it their duty to bring their minds to bear are prepared to make proposals for the Closure at a time when it appears to them that it is proper to do so. But I am bound to say that it would be impossible for the Government to take upon themselves to interfere with the general liberty of hon. Members in reference to the subject.

On a point of Order, Sir, may I ask whether the Rules of Procedure do not permit the humblest Representative of the people to move the Closure when he deems that the Rules of the House are being abused by flagrant obstruction of the Public Business?

According to the Standing Order, it is open to any hon. Member to move the Closure.

The Labour Arbitration Bill

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will set down the Labour Arbitration Bill at some hour before midnight, when after a moderate discussion the matters connected with this Bill can be determined?

I am aware that a considerable number of hon. Members are interested in the passage of the Bill; but I am afraid that I cannot undertake to say at present that any arrangement can be made as suggested.

How To Save Time

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, with the view of saving the time of the House at Question time, a Member, on being called upon by Mr. Speaker, may simply respond by giving the number of the question which stands in his name on the Paper instead of the usual introductory form of words?

My opinion is that the humblest economies of time are not to be despised. That which the hon. Member suggests is one I should be glad to see adopted; but, at the same time, I do not think that the proposed innovation would be a good basis for the Government to work upon in amending the Standing Orders.

The Property Qualification Under Home Rule

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he proposes to adhere to the property qualification, as stated in Clause 6 of the Bill for the Better Government of Ireland, for electors who vote at elections of the Legislative Council?

The question about qualification, and particularly the qualification proposed in the Bill for electors of the Council of the Second Chamber in Ireland, is one which the Government have put frankly before the House, and have laid open to discussion. They have never stated that in their view the matter was so stereotyped as not to be open to modification, after discussion in this House. I am not prepared to say more than that at present, because I think we ought to avail ourselves of any light which may be thrown upon the subject during the discussion which will take place upon it.

The Blocking Of Bills

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the inconvenience caused repeatedly recently by the objection after 12 o'clock of a single Member to particular business when the House is universally desirous of proceeding with it; and whether he will facilitate the adoption of some such alteration of Standing Order No. 1 as suggested by the Motion on to-day's Order Paper?

The proposal referred to is one of great importance, and I should be inclined to agree that some such alteration as that suggested is desirable. It is, however, a serious matter, as it is in the nature of a restriction of the liberty of action of hon. Members, and no steps ought to be taken without mature deliberation and consultation with the authorities.

Places Of Worship Enfranchisement Bill

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Places of Worship Enfranchisement Bill, which has precedence on Wednesday next under the Standing Orders, will be taken as the first Order on that day; and, if not, what facilities will be given to proceed with the remaining stages of the Bill. having regard to the statement made by him with reference to the Bill on the 30th March last?

May I inquire whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that, owing to the action of the Chairman of the Standing Committee on this Bill, it has assumed a very controversial character; and whether he is aware that if the Bill wore proceeded with on Wednesday it would necessarily lead to prolonged discussion?

I have not heard that. In answer to the question of my hon. and learned Friend, I cannot hold out any hope that it will have precedence of the Government of Ireland Bill to-morrow.

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that on March 30 he said that the "usual facilities" would be given to all Bills which had already passed the Committee stage; and whether this did not imply that the Places of Worship Enfranchisement Bill, which has passed through Committee, will have precedence to-morrow over the Government of Ireland Bill, which has not passed that stage?

I am unable to speak to the exact words which I used upon the occasion referred to; but I do not remember that I stated that the main business of the House would be set aside as in the case of the Eight Hours (Mines) Bill. Still, the hon. Member may rely on it that the Government are not at all disposed to lose sight of the importance of the Bill to which he refers.

Business Of The House

I beg to ask the Prime Minister a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether he will be so very kind as to adjourn the Debate on the Government of Ireland Bill to-day a little before midnight, so as to allow time for a brief discussion on the Vote on Account?

That is a very reasonable request, and we shall propose, about 11 o'clock, to report Progress.

The Irtsh Railway Accident

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made by the Board of Trade to inquire into the recent railway accident in Ireland?

As soon as I heard of this sad accident I telegraphed authorising a special inquiry which would involve an Assessor in addition to one of the Inspectors of the Board, and I desired that some Irish barrister should be appointed as Assessor. The result is that Major Marindin will represent the Board of Trade, and Mr. Adams, Q.C., will be his legal Assessor.